Flames billow from the tiny boat as it floats adrift on the Indian Ocean - a dramatic illustration of the Royal Navy's success against Somali pirates.
The bandits’ skiff was blown out of the water with an awesome show of force from a Merlin helicopter which flew from the decks of HMS Westminster, which is bolstering security off the coast of Africa.
Rounds fired from the aircraft's guns strafed the vessel, setting fire to fuel tanks.
The ferocious display allowed boarding teams from the Type 23 frigate to round up another boat containing 12 suspected pirates without a fight.
Photographs of the spectacular operation, launched last month, were cleared for release yesterday by the Ministry of Defence. Read More